Major websites affected by big cyber attack

Monday, October 24th 2016

Last Friday cheeky hackers took down some of the world's major websites, that alarmed security experts, because it revealed a new type of threat. The cyber attack was unleashed through common devices like digital recorders and webcams. It affected some of the best known websites on Friday (21 October) evening. Spotify, Netflix, eBay, PayPal, Reddit, Twitter, SoundCloud, GitHub and PlayStation Network, all reported being affected.

The attack by cyber criminals was on the New Hampshire based Dyn, an internet performance management company and DNS provider. They work with a number of big websites and provide Domain Name Servers to many others. Hackers set off a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn and the attack spread to their customers as well. Most of whom experienced sporadic outage. Some were not able to use the internet at all. Kylie York, chief strategy officer at Dyn, said they know it as a sophisticated highly distributed attack that involved tens of millions of IP addresses.

The cyber criminals harnessed loads of devices connected to the internet and made them all together ping a server continuously, simultaneously, thereby overloading the server. Lawrence Orans, a web security expert, opined that the magnitude of the attack cannot be made by a kid in his bedroom, but a nation state can be a prime suspect. Robert Page of Redscan, a security testing company, however disagrees and said the ease of the attack suggested perpetrators could be more likely to be teenagers trying to cause mischief and not a state-sponsered one.

Dyn has said it has patched the flaw and has asked customers to change the default password when they use it for the first time. Law enforcement authorities are investigating on the cyber attack. Dyn has posted details of the attack and has noted that this attack was different, as DDoS attacks are not uncommon for them.

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